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Solar Cookers for Rural Tibetans in Gansu Province, PR China

Author: Gatub Drolma (Lillian), Tsepak Namgyal (Joseph), and Kevin Stuart
Keywords: solar cookers for rural Tibetan residents; Gansu Province; solar energy
Language: English
Collection: opensource


Kalle Mattila of Finland provided 26,419.20RMB. This, plus a local contribution of 10,250RMB, allowed Gatub Drolma (Lillian) and Tsepak Namgyal (Joseph) to purchase 205 solar cookers for two rural Tibetan communities, one nine-year compulsory education Tibetan school, and one Tibetan monastery in Choni County, Gannan Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture, Gansu Province, PR China. This project is directly benefiting 1,500 countryside Tibetan residents and doing our planet a great deal of good.

Lhaga (b. 1942) confided that she walked many miles and climbed steep mountains every week in the course of collecting firewood when she was young. With advancing age however, Lhaga has been unable to collect much wood. Her daughter-in-law scolded her for using wood that she (the daughter-in-law) collected, particularly when Lhaga made a fire to cook lunch and boil tea for only herself, when her son and daughter-in-law were not at home. Now, with the solar cooker, Lhaga experience more freedom in making tea and cooking, and is less fearful of domestic disputes related to fuel use.

Yanggyid (b. 1974) started collecting firewood when she was thirteen. She has never attended school nor has she traveled outside the township where she was born. Her three children attend the village primary school. Her husband goes to urban centers every year to earn cash income for the family, while she stays home caring for the home and children. She said her hardest task is hauling water (which requires an hour to make a roundtrip with buckets) and firewood collecting. Farming work is concentrated in spring, summer, and autumn, which means she must collect fuel in winter. Local government restrictions on collecting firewood adds to her stress. On a typical winter day, she rises at around four in the morning, prepare breakfast for the family, and leaves to collect fuel high in the mountains and takes two hours. Although there are forests near her home, she has been caught and fined 200 RMB several times by local officials. She thus goes further away and into steep mountains in an effort to not being punished. She gathers branches and carries the wood on her back. A usual load weights about thirty kilograms. The track covered with snow is always slippery and she is soaked through when she returns home. She must do this repeatedly for two months to accumulate enough fuel for her family's needs. The solar cooker will reduce the wood she must collect. She said the solar cookers are very helpful because they can be used on sunny days, thus saving firewood. She assumes that she may only need to spend one month instead of two collecting firewood this year, thanks to the solar cooker. When asked if her family could buy firewood and coal instead, she said her husband keeps all the money and she relies on him for money. She uses the solar cooker to boil water, bake bread, and heat water to wash clothes.

Tanba Gyamtso's (b. 1975) family arranged for him to become a monk when he was ten. He has now earned the Geshe degree, the highest degree in Tibetan philosophy. When recounting his 23 years of monkhood, he cited getting fuel as the most difficult challenge, more difficult than memorizing numerous blocks of scriptures. His original home is noted for having little forested land. His family members have tried their best to supply him with firewood but, sadly in the process, he lost his brother in 1997 when the latter√Ęs handcart full of logs overturned along a zigzag mountain road and took him with it down a steep slope. With the solar cooker, Gyamtso said he is able to boil water and cook potatoes and simple dishes. He noted that on a sunny day, a medium-sized kettle of water will boil in twelve minutes. He believes the solar cooker will reduce his need for fuel by fifty percent.

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Mediatype: texts
Identifier: SolarCookersForRuralTibetansInGansuProvincePrChina
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